Hood bask in title glory
Robin Hood have completed a remarkable eight-year journey from Commercial League “pub team” to the pre-eminent force in Bermudian football.
Hood had all but won the Premier Division title before their 1-0 defeat away to Boulevard at Police Field yesterday, with Kyle Lightbourne’s side boasting a goal difference of plus 13.
It might not have been the manner in which Lightbourne envisioned his side winning their maiden title, but the disappointment of defeat would have surely been washed away long before his triumphant side arrived at the Robin Hood pub and restaurant in Hamilton to continue their celebrations last night.
For Hood’s players, back-room staff and “Hoodlums” — the team’s self-styled supporters group — were cracking open the beverages soon after referee Garic Swainson blew the final whistle.
“I’m happy we managed to get across the line, although I’m disappointed we didn’t win today,” said Lightbourne, who led Hood to second-place and a first FA Cup trophy last season. “We’ve been improving season by season and it’s satisfying because we’ve come a long way.
“I remember the first season I came here we had about 12 players. I had to play games and Bobby Emmett [a long-serving clubman] had to play one game. We didn’t know if we were coming or going!”
Hood suffered relegation that season — the 2011-2012 campaign — but made an immediate return to the top flight after winning the First Division title.
“We had to regroup and came back as champions and haven’t looked back since,” said Lightbourne, who won the title, FA Cup and Martonmere Trophy as PHC Zebras coach during the 2007-08 season.
“We’ve been in the top half of the table since we got promoted and I’m really happy with the effort the players have put in.”
Lightbourne praised his boyhood club PHC for pushing Hood all the way this season, with Scott Morton’s side finishing level on points with the champions after defeating Dandy Town 5-0 at PHC Field yesterday.
“Beating [Somerset Eagles 3-0 at home on Thursday night] was enough to win us the trophy,” Lightbourne said. “PHC obviously gave it a good go against Dandy Town but for us to lose by seven goals was never really going to happen.”
Hood conceded nine goals all season, with Darius Cox, the captain and defensive lynchpin, hailing Hood’s team spirit as a defining factor in their success.
“From the first day of the season we all joked together, played together and watched each others’ backs on and off the field — that helps a big deal,” Cox said.
Cox, who won a pair of titles with Devonshire Cougars in 2006-07 and 2012-13, said he was proud to be part of the meanest defence in the top flight.
“Lighty talked to us about the importance of getting shutouts and that’s something me and the defence have been working on,” he said. “We tried to keep it under ten goals and that’s what we got. We wanted to end the season with another shutout but Boulevard are a good team and this pitch is very hard to play on.”
Joel Duffy, the Hood president, said the impact of Lightbourne could not be underestimated.
“To think that six or seven years ago we were just a Commercial League team ... we’ve come a long way,” Duffy said. “Lighty has done a lot for the club as well as Bobby, Darran [Reitze] and Paul Scope to name a few. This means a lot to the guys who played for the club 20 years ago and still follow us. It reaches a lot of people who feel part of Hood’s success.”
Premier Division, pages 42-43